Maud Newton has written personal essays, cultural and literary criticism, and fiction. Her essay, “America’s Ancestry Craze,” is the cover story of the June 2014 issue of Harper’s. She’s writing a book about the science and superstition of ancestry for Random House. Her website, The Begats, is her clipboard for ancestry miscellany of all kinds.
Newton’s work has appeared in the New York Times Magazine, Narrative, the New York Times Book Review, Bookforum, the Awl, Medium, Granta, the Oxford American, Tin House, Humanities, the Los Angeles Times, the Washington Post, the American Prospect, the Boston Globe, the Paris Review Daily and many other publications and anthologies.
She received the Narrative Prize for “When the Flock Changed,” an excerpt from the novel she’s also writing. Her personal essay, “Conversations You Have at Twenty,” won second prize in Narrative’s Love Story Contest and was anthologized in Love is a Four-Letter Word, and she was awarded City College’s Irwin and Alice Stark Short Fiction Prize for “Regarding the Insurance Defense Attorney.”
Newton was born in Dallas, to a Texan mother and a southern father. At two, she moved to Miami, Florida, where she was often mistaken for a tourist because of her Scottish shut-in complexion. She attended the University of Florida, where she studied writing with Padgett Powell and Harry Crews, and then, for lack of a better plan, she went to law school. Now a resident of Brooklyn, she has worked for more than a decade as an editor and writer for (a legal publishing division of) Thomson Reuters.
She started blogging in May 2002 with the aim of finding others who were passionate about books, culture, and politics, and to establish an informal place to write about her life and family. Within a few years, her site had been praised, criticized, and quoted in the New York Times Book Review, Forbes, New York Magazine, the Washington Post, the London Times, Entertainment Weekly, USA Today, the New York Times, the The Guardian, the Telegraph, the The Wall Street Journal, the New York Daily News, Poets & Writers Magazine, the San Francisco Chronicle, the New Yorker, Book Magazine, London’s Evening Standard, the The Scotsman, Slate, the Denver Post, Canada’s National Post, and many other publications. She has appeared on BookTV, Talk of the Nation, KERA’s Think, Wisconsin Public Radio, and Radio Open Source.
She served on the Board of Girls Write Now, a nonprofit organization that pairs professional mentors with at-risk teen girls, and assisted in the creation of its Chapters reading series. She remains an ardent supporter and a liaison to the publishing industry.